Tonight marks the first debate for the Democratic primary race for president of the United States. One of the very first topics discussed was the issue of gun control, and not surprisingly every single person on the stage believed that further restrictions on the rights of American citizens is the only acceptable solution. The following is the full transcript of that section of the debate, but first a couple notes . . .
Bernie Sanders presented a somewhat pragmatic approach, and argued that gun dealers shouldn’t be held liable for crimes committed with a legally purchased firearm. Hillary Clinton immediately disagreed and nearly demanded that gun dealers be held liable for the actions of their customers. O’Malley tried to use his passage of gun control in Maryland to prove his bona fides, and pointed to the case of the blatantly frivolous lawsuit against Lucky Gunner as proof that the evil NRA has hijacked the legal system and something must be done. Chaffee basically blamed the evil NRA for all of the ills in the world and didn’t go much further, and Webb came across as the least insane by simply stating we need to keep guns out of the hands of bad people.
Minutes later, Moms Demand Action (a wholly owned subsidiary of Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety) issued a statement proclaiming victory that gun control was even mentioned at the debate.
COOPER: […] Let’s move on to some of the most pressing issues facing our country right now, some of the biggest issues right now in the headlines today. We’re going to start with guns. The shooting in Oregon earlier this month, once again it brought the issue of guns into the national conversation. Over the last week, guns have been the most discussed political topic on Facebook by two to one.
Senator Sanders, you voted against the Brady bill that mandated background checks and a waiting period. You also supported allowing riders to bring guns in checked bags on Amtrak trains. For a decade, you said that holding gun manufacturers legally responsible for mass shootings is a bad idea. Now, you say you’re reconsidering that. Which is it: shield the gun companies from lawsuits or not?
SANDERS: Let’s begin, Anderson, by understanding that Bernie Sanders has a D-minus voting rating (ph) from the NRA. Let’s also understand that back in 1988 when I first ran for the United States Congress, way back then, I told the gun owners of the state of Vermont and I told the people of the state of Vermont, a state which has virtually no gun control, that I supported a ban on assault weapons. And over the years, I have strongly avoided instant background checks, doing away with this terrible gun show loophole. And I think we’ve got to move aggressively at the federal level in dealing with the straw man purchasers.
Also I believe, and I’ve fought for, to understand that there are thousands of people in this country today who are suicidal, who are homicidal, but can’t get the healthcare that they need, the mental healthcare, because they don’t have insurance or they’re too poor. I believe that everybody in this country who has a mental crisis has got to get mental health counseling immediately.
COOPER: Do you want to shield gun companies from lawsuits?
SANDERS: Of course not. This was a large and complicated bill. There were provisions in it that I think made sense. For example, do I think that a gun shop in the state of Vermont that sells legally a gun to somebody, and that somebody goes out and does something crazy, that that gun shop owner should be held responsible? I don’t.
On the other hand, where you have manufacturers and where you have gun shops knowingly giving guns to criminals or aiding and abetting that, of course we should take action.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns?
CLINTON: No, not at all. I think that we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence. This has gone on too long and it’s time the entire country stood up against the NRA. The majority of our country…